A Line In The Sand
24/09/2023 - Jody Destry
Series Recap //
Life’s busy and we’re oversubscribed – it can easy for our relationship with Jesus and being planted and connected in authentic life-giving community with others to become just another one of the many options on the smorgasbord of life’s activities.
We’ve also been talking about the culture of the day we’re living in – and the opposition (both spiritual and cultural) that we’re facing when it comes to relationships / families / marriages and our communities. The challenges are all around us.
But amidst all of that, Jesus extends an invitation to us to a different way of living – and we wanted to look at the opportunities before us to cultivate health and wholeness in our relationships.
Background + Context:
- The Israelites have been in the Promised Land for 50 years under Joshua’s leadership and now Joshua is near the end of his life.
- Joshua gathers a representative of all the people together at a place called Shechem (where many significant events have taken place in scripture – an important crossroads – physically and spiritually)
- Joshua reminds them of their story – of God’s faithfulness to them and their faithlessness.
- Joshua highlights the constant thorn of idolatry that has had it’s grip on them over many generations
Standing at the crossroads of Shechem – after reminding them of their story Joshua makes a grand declaration:
14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
This is a line in the sand moment.
1/ Joshua is calling them TO a renewed commitment to fear the Lord and serve him as their one and only God
2/Joshua is calling them TO a renewed devotion to worship God
3/ Joshua is calling them TO an undivided heart toward God.
So in order for them to move towards those things – they will have to move away from other things.
1/ AWAY from their idolatry
2/ AWAY from the sins of their ancestors and from the things of their past that haven’t served them
3/ AWAY from the false gods of the culture they were living in.
They had started to fit in so much to the culture around them that you could hardly recognise them as God’s people.
A word of warning for us:
Are we recognisable to others as people who represent Jesus and His way or have we become so well adapted to the culture of the day that we’ve lost our witness?
Note on idolatry //
Idolatry is alive and well in our culture today.
We can trace idolatry all the way back to Gen 3 in garden when Adam and Eve stopped trusting God’s goodness, stopped listening to God’s warnings and stopped obeying his instructions – instead defining for themselves what was good and evil.
Anything to which we give more power and authority to in our lives than we do to God is an idol.
self / ego
addictions / dependencies
(Not all of these things are bad – in fact some of them are great things that when in the right place of priority in our lives can be wonderful strengths and gifts – but when they’re given more power and authority in our lives than they should have, that is, more power and authority than God has in our lives things start to unravel)
Choose for yourself (this day whom you will serve)
Joshua is calling them to make this decision afresh or again in this moment – it’s interesting because they’ve already made this decision (as recently as Josh Ch 8!) – so why do they have to do it again?
Renewal and recommitment is central to our discipleship.
Why? Because we continually fall away, get sidetracked, get distracted, our hearts become divided, we rebel, we sin and fall short all the time. But in God’s grace and compassion we are invited back in through the doorway of humility and repentance to receive God’s grace again and again and again.
Joshua almost tries to talk them out of it – making sure they understand the implications of their decision. Our decisions require action.
- We get off-track so easily.
- Our flesh is weak – our hearts are so easily drawn away from God to other things.
- Before we know it we’ve got a little secret stockpile of idols we’re worshipping over here – all the things we look too for comfort and refuge and connection and intimacy and belonging and significance and identity.
- The truth is that God is the only one who can truly satisfy all of our desires and needs.
- He is the one in who life, identity, purpose, comfort, restoration and freedom are found.
To draw a line in the sand today – to reset – to refocus – to reorder our lives and put Jesus back at the centre of our lives, of our homes, of our families, our marriages, our relationships
To renew our devotion to Jesus.
To throw away our idols and fear the Lord and worship Him alone.
To yield our hearts to the Lord once again (surrender).
To declare as Joshua did on that day – ‘As for me and my house we will serve the Lord’
1/ Is today a line in the sand moment for me? Do I sense God inviting me to make a personal and public recommitment to him today?
2/ What idols do I need to ‘put away’ in order to serve the Lord wholeheartedly?
3/ What do I need to take responsibility for today when it comes to my own journey of faith?
4/ What might need reordering in my life and my household in order to serve and honour God fully?
5/ How is God inviting me to deeper places of surrender, worship and devotion? And how might I create room and time in my life for this?